Aces on Bridge — Daily Columns

The Aces on Bridge: Monday, November 26th, 2012

Give all thou canst; high Heaven rejects the lore
Of nicely calculated less or more.

William Wordsworth

East North
Both ♠ Q 9
 K 10 2
 A 6 3 2
♣ K J 4 2
West East
♠ K 8 7 2
 7 4
 Q 10 7 4
♣ Q 5 3
♠ 10 4
 Q J 8 6 5 3
 K J 9 8
♣ 6
♠ A J 6 5 3
 A 9
♣ A 10 9 8 7
South West North East
4♣* Pass 6♣ All pass

*Spades and clubs, game-forcing


Many people find percentages at bridge dull. They may have a point, but today we are going to look a little closer at the old adage "Eight ever, nine never."

When you are missing four cards in a suit, you should normally play for the drop of the queen, but when missing five cards in a suit, you normally finesse for a key card rather than play for the drop.

However, note that use of the word “normally.” It is particularly true that when you are missing four cards, the slightest indication that one opponent has greater length in that suit than his partner — as few as a two-card differential — should sway you to play the defender who is short in that suit for the queen.

Let’s look at the first of this week’s deals from the Seattle Nationals last year. West’s jump to four clubs showed that suit and spades (so-called Leaping Michaels).

I suppose I’m getting old, but East and especially South seem to be well short of their bids. On lead against six clubs, West was hoping he had two tricks and that his partner might come through with a little something, given his vulnerable weak two-bid … not tonight, Josephine!

On a heart lead, declarer won and cashed the club ace, but then should he finesse or drop? This one is easy. Since East has six hearts and West two, West has much more room in his hand for the trump queen than East, so the finesse is a heavy favorite to win.

Although your cards clearly lie extremely well on defense, that is not quite enough reason to go passive automatically. Your choice is between the black suits, and I would opt for a spade rather than a club. This is primarily because you don't rate to sacrifice a third-round spade trick by attacking the suit. Declarer figures to be able to ruff spade losers in dummy.


♠ Q 8 3
 A J 4
 A 6 3
♣ 10 7 4 3
South West North East
Pass 1 Pass 1
Pass 2♣ Pass 3
Pass 4 All pass  

For details of Bobby Wolff’s autobiography, The Lone Wolff, contact If you would like to contact Bobby Wolff, please leave a comment at this blog. Reproduced with permission of United Feature Syndicate, Inc., Copyright 2012. If you are interested in reprinting The Aces on Bridge column, contact